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Senior scene

May 19, 2012

Looking Back: Good times could be found on the beach yesterday and today

Sometimes we just need a change of pace and scenery with a little vacation or a simple getaway weekend. We see the many tourists all flocking up here to have a nice time in our area and then we have the folks who live here all traveling the many miles to go somewhere else.

With all the advertisements in the media, there is so much to choose from. However, the economy does dictate as to how extensive our "getaway" will be. My husband and I decided that it would be nice to see the Maine coast again, and an "off-season" resort is quite tempting. Heated indoor (and outdoor) pools along with hot tubs and saunas are never crowded, in fact, we literally had the place to ourselves. Peace and quiet.

There is so much awesome beauty in the ocean. Just to sit and relax breathing in the fresh salt air listening to the gentle waves slushing over the sandy beach and gently nudging the rocky outcrops is so therapeutic.

The seagulls would call to one another as they glided past and landed in an incoming puddle left by a receding wave as they looked for anything eatable. We usually have a stash of Chinese fortune cookies in the glove compartment. (Leftovers from our favorite restaurant.) These I scrunched up and flung into the wind.

Gulls galore immediately knew about the feast, as they loudly squawked to communicate with their cohorts. Over they flew, en masse, to gobble up the crumbs hurriedly before the next guy cruised in.

One beautiful fellow decided to land on the hood of the car as my husband sat behind the wheel. Leaning over, Hubby retrieved his camera and shot several great photos through the windshield. Not to be out done, another gull joined the posing while I quietly stood by leaning on the car door with my hands full of cookies. (Of course they had to leave their trademark so glaringly on a black car ... an unwelcome souvenir.)

I was about to toss some bits with my right hand while my left held the remainder of cookie when seemingly out of nowhere a gull swooped down behind me and gently grabbed the biggest piece ... right from my hand. Zip and away he went. That was a first in my lifetime and quite an experience for me. He (I think it was a he) was ever so gentle, for I still had five fingers left.

That was a highlight of our trip for we thoroughly enjoy every bit of a little life. Even though some folks might view seagulls as pests, still they too want to be happy and enjoy themselves.

Times have changed and especially for me, for I used to spend many enjoyable summer hours down on the sandy beaches of the New Jersey shore. I thought nothing of just diving into the surf paying no attention to all the "hazards" that we hear of today. Then we used to lazily stretch out on the hot sand to soak up the suns rays. Many a time we would splash vinegar over our reddened skin in the evening, which would take the "hurt" out of the sunburn and hasten a brown tan. All that was many years ago.

"Do you use sun block?" asked my dermatologist a few weeks ago. She looked quizzically at me as my giggle turned into a chuckle. So I politely explained about how my youthful "yesterday" was before the sunblocks where even thought about along with all the many warnings regarding skin cancer. I told her that Coppertone and the many lotions were too pricey for the average teenager, so we just put a good swig of iodine into a bottle of baby oil. Shake it each time you smear it on your skin and voila ... nice tan for pennies. No tanning salons or numbered fancy preparations back then and we had a simple and inexpensive way of obtaining a beautiful healthy tan. But now, today, many of us have to pay the price. "Forewarned is forearmed" ... so be healthy with some sunblock and a nice wide-brimmed hat that is ever so fashionable.

Elaine W. Kniskern is a 79-year-old resident of Schenevus and a grandmother of five. She can be reached at 'Senior Scene' columns can be found at

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